COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in New Zealand
The 2019 outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus, has resulted in travel restrictions in many countries around the world including in New Zealand. This guide provides advice for travellers visiting New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand has some of the toughest travel restrictions in place for people arriving from overseas as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. This guide uses updates provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Health and will be updated when new information becomes available. The restrictions mentioned below are reviewed by the New Zealand Government every 14-16 days.
For regular updates on the Coronavirus, check out the NZ Pocket Guide YouTube Channel, while more general advice on travelling in New Zealand can be found at New Zealand Travel Advice: How to Plan a Trip to New Zealand.
Cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand
This article was last updated in July 2020.
As of July 2020, New Zealand has had 21 active cases of COVID-19.
Arriving in New Zealand from Overseas
There is a temporary border restriction where most foreign travellers can no longer enter New Zealand. The New Zealand Government has made no decisions on when these border restrictions will be lifted.
Who Can Enter New Zealand Without Approval?
The New Zealand border is closed to anyone but a few exceptions. The exceptions of people who do not need to seek approval from Immigration New Zealand before entering New Zealand include:
- New Zealand citizens
- Permanent residents
- Residents with valid travel conditions
- Immediate family of those stated above (partner or spouse and dependent children) who hold a visa based on a relationship with a New Zealand citizen or resident
- Diplomats who hold a post in New Zealand.
Others Who Can Enter New Zealand
There is a small number of exceptions of people who can enter New Zealand but must first seek approval from Immigration New Zealand. These people include:
- Partners, dependent children (aged 19 or under) or legal guardians of New Zealand citizens or residents who do not hold a visa based on their relationship but are either travelling with their New Zealand citizen or resident family member or ordinarily live in New Zealand
- Partners and dependent children (aged 19 and under) of a work, student or visitor visa holder in New Zealand who hold a valid visa and are normally resident in New Zealand
- Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand
- Critical health workers
- Samoan and Tongan citizens making essential travel which has been agreed to by their government and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Critical humanitarian travel.
More information on each exception can be found on this page of the Immigration New Zealand website.
What Happens When You Arrive in New Zealand from Overseas?
Anyone arriving in New Zealand from overseas must stay in a managed isolation and quarantine facility for at least 14 days. New arrivals will also be tested for COVID-19.
Those who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 will stay in a managed isolation facility. They cannot leave this facility unless they have received an exemption from health officials. They can, however, go for walks as long they do not have any contact with other people.
Those who have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive will be placed in a quarantine facility and will not be permitted to leave their room.
What are the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities?
These facilities are hotels that have been specially allocated as a managed isolation and quarantine facility by the New Zealand Government. At the facilities, people are provided with three meals a day and have other basic needs met like prescription medicines delivered to them, for example.
More information on the arrival process for New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the Ministry of Health website.
For general advice for arriving in New Zealand, take a look at Everything You Need to Know About Arriving in a New Zealand Airport.
Visa Processing for International Travellers
Visa processing for international travellers is still on hold. This means that people wishing to travel to New Zealand from overseas who do not fit any of the criteria mentioned above are not able to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand at this time. This includes visitor visas, working holiday visas, student visas and more.
For any visa application that has already been submitted from overseas, this will stay in a queue until the current border restrictions are lifted. According to Immigration New Zealand, “Decision timeframes [once the borders are open] will depend on how many applications are in the queue.”
Visa Statuses for International Travellers Already in New Zealand
For those already in New Zealand on a visa, all of the original visa conditions are still the same. You cannot stay in New Zealand past your visa’s expiry date unless there has been a visa extension to your specific visa. You should have received an email from Immigration New Zealand if a visa extension applied to your visa. You can also check out the latest visa extensions on this page of the Immigration New Zealand website.
What are the Restrictions for People in New Zealand?
Other than the border measures and the mandatory isolation/quarantine for new arrivals, there are no other restrictions in place in New Zealand.
Because of the low number of cases which are controlled and not spreading in the community, it is safe for people in New Zealand to go about life as normal.
Are Tourism Businesses Still Operating?
Many tourism businesses are still operating in New Zealand, including tours, accommodations and transport. However, some have closed either temporarily or permanently due to the decline of tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend double-checking that your chosen operators are open for business before making your travel plans.